Help!My children won’t eat!

My children seem to be existing on fresh air. Or, perhaps they are living on black olives, macaroni cheese (the big one), toast and bananas. Its a wonder they have the energy to run me ragged all the time, but they do.
Mealtimes are a battleground in this house and ALWAYS end in tears, sometimes mine but mostly always the baby’s. Last night they were the big one’s tears which led to my tears, but you don’t want to know about that.
The big one used to be a fairly good, if limited eater. Her favourite food is pasta and she especially loves spaghetti bolognaise.

No problem with sweet stuff...


We once caught her eating leftovers from the bin- thats how much she loves it! Before anyone thinks of calling social services, we stopped her, of course! But thats how much she used to love eating it… now its a battle just to get her to eat things she does like. I don’t think it has anything to do with body image (see my article for Mumable) and more to do with the baby…

The baby. The small bundle of joy that causes so much worry, anxiety, stress and tears. I worry constantly about this boy. He demands so much of my energy and my time and thats fine- he’s a baby after all. But he is one awkward little baby and our battle with eating has been going on for a long time.
When his reflux was really bad, I was advised to stop breastfeeding because he just wasn’t thriving. I had gone dairy free for weeks, was barely eating anything through stress, sleep deprivation and other issues. I was feeding him constantly day and night- he was then throwing it all up again. Lovely. So I gave him a bottle of formula and that was the beginning of the end. I found that I was living in a troubled world of expressing, feeding, topping up, expressing, feeding, topping up… So when our consultant told me that my baby needed to put on weight and I needed to stop breastfeeding, I sadly agreed. He did put on weight.

Who me? Awkward?


So we started weaning the baby at four months, under medical guidance. I still don’t know if this was the right thing to do (see my post on weaning) but we did it and it seemed to go well. He stopped screaming during his feeds and the food started to stay down a little better, admittedly with the help of domperidone, but still. He was gaining weight and he was happier.
I don’t know what happened after that. I can’t remember when he stopped eating, or enjoying eating. I can’t remember the last time he slept through the night properly- these days he gets so hungry that he wakes for milk most nights. I don’t know what it feels like to sit down for a meal and enjoy eating with my little family. The last time we went out for a meal, for my birthday, my husband ate standing up so that he could entertain the baby (who was screaming in protest at having food infront of him) and we were in and out within the hour. That’s fast spaghetti eating.

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t feel like such a useless failure each and every time we serve up a meal. My son just doesn’t want to eat and its really starting to get to me. So if there are any dinner fairies out there who are willing to wave their wands in my direction, I would be eternally grateful. Either that, or someone just come and make something that my baby wants to eat. Please, someone help!

I think my kids have this tattoo somwhere...

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19 responses to “Help!My children won’t eat!

  • Michelle Twin Mum

    I used to have some fun with JJ and the thing that worked for us was having placements with little characters on, we had a great noddy one. Basically I woudl sit thre all animated and say ‘noddy wants some broccoli’ and put the fork to the placement and makes the noises nom, nom, nom and then I would say ‘JJ have some broccoli like Noddy’. Then ask ‘what does Noddy want next’.

    Sounds crazy but it worked wonders. I let JJ go and choose his own placemat the next time we bought one and he loved that too.

    I am sure you have heard it before, if you are chilled and carefree about the eating then the kids will be too. Not sure how old your babe is now? sorry.

    Mich x

  • Lisa

    Hi, Not sure if I’d call myself expert, but my dd (now 9) was a terribly fussy eater as a toddler and her ‘fussy phase’ lasted about 2 or 3 years! We now know that she hates milky foods or foods with a soft texture (and still refuses things like banana, tomato, mash, porridge etc !). Once I stopped getting stressed and let her just get on with it, she started trying new foods, and now eats pretty well. I also got her involved with shopping for food and cooking, so she handled a lot of different foods, even if she wouldn’t eat them!

    Good Luck!

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  • mummy@bofortea

    Oh my dear, I could have written this post myself and wept tears into the keyboard as I typed. Like your little one DD will not eat. She exists on pureed baby food and apple juice mixed together and drunk through a straw, and Cheerios. She used to eat just fine and now she doesn’t. I have no idea why. I have done everything I can think of to get her to eat. So, at some point soon, date still to be determined based on my nerve, I will be going cold turkey on her. She will have the food I put in front of her minus her ‘juuuice’ and she will eat it or go hungry. I am reliably informed that no child will ever let themselves starve, so eventually she’ll start eating it. That’s the plan anyway. I am sure to be blogging about it for my own sanity. Perhaps we should start a ‘can eat but won’t eat’ support group?

  • superlittlemen

    My youngest was a nightmare eater. He was weaned at 4 months due to failure to thrive and reflux, on domperidone, rinitadine and then lanzoprazole for about a year. He ived on fromage frais. I got to the stage where I was dipping his pureed veg in fromage frais as i knew his first taste would be the fromage frais and he would automatically swallow. he didnt even chew until he was 16 months and has subsequently had problems with dribbling and speech as he never developed those muscles. He is now 4, eats like a sparrow (unless it is sweet) and still doesnt do meat or if he does it is under durress, yet he is a very solid little build. I tried every trick in the book, and was v stressed about it, and in the end I went cold turkey and put food on the tray in front of him and walked away, or we all sat at the table together and ignored him. if he chucked it on thefloor, it was picked up on put back on his tray. i always ended a meal with something he did like, but again left him to it. I was also told to water the milk down in the night to try and make him eat more. I hated doing that as he needed that milk through hunger but because it was habit and to be honest, I didnt do a very good job at cutting it out. I couldnt leave a straving child crying at 4am, for anyones sanity.

    I heard the expression a child will never strave itself 100’s of times too and looking back it is now true, but it is so hard at the time, my heart goes out to you. Have your tried going right back to basic tastes and then building up again, that worked a little for us? Good luck

  • Hannah

    I’m not sure what to advise to this hun, but one thing I will say:

    Don’t think of yourself as a failure. You are not. At all. Stop it.

    Good luck with the food issues. I do hope they resolve themselves. I gave my daughter solids at 15 weeks and it was the best thing I ever did. I’ve been lucky really, she eats anything – she’d eat poo if it had a sauce.

    Hugs xx

  • Maritza

    Hi there. I’m a mum to four and have seen different variations of kids appetite and whilst it does drive us mad, there’s not much we can do apart from physically hold them down and force feed them when they refuse to eat. Off course you can’t do that! I know it’s easy for me to say that (I am sooooo relaxed with my youngest daughter who is 4) but she is unbelievably stubborn and her appetite is that of a sparrow, nothing like my oldest two girls. My son, also had issues when he was a baby/toddler, he would only eat white food. He is now a strapping 7 year old mini rugby player with the appetite of a teenager. Goodness knows how he will eat when he actually is a teenager! Anyway, my point is, don’t sweat it. They eat what they need and things will get better.

  • doreen mcgettigan

    I say let them eat what and when they want. Provide healthy choices but do not sweat the small stuff. When they are hungry they will eat!

  • Miss Behaving

    I’m nodding my head to the comment above.
    2 of mine were horribly picky eaters, and now I can barely afford to feed them. It’ll pass. You are not alone. These days most of my IRL friends have very small children and all of them, everyone of them says, mealtime is a battle ground, frought with feelings of frustration, exasperation and failure and quite often tears, lots of tears from everyone. They will grow out of it.
    One friend tried, with some success, the cake tin thing, like a muffin tray and you put a small amount of different foods in each part.
    I hope it passes soon. Make sure YOU eat enough too, you need your strength.

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  • Carole

    Try not to get so stressed easier said than done I know, but from a Mum who has been there done it and got the badge, please, please don’t feel guilty, you are no alone.

    Try taking a more chilled out approach and let them eat what they like to a point rather than what you feel they should be eating. When they are eating you can then at least start introducing new foods.

    Good luck, I know it’s not easy xxx

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